Minnesota Health Providers Defy Pawlenty, Send Comments On ACA Implementation To HHS

Three health associations representing state insurers, hospitals, and doctors have defied Governor Tim Pawlenty’s effort to resist implementing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and sent “valuable information and suggestions” to HHS to help the agency in “promulgating future rules that will govern Minnesota’s health insurance exchanges and insurance markets.” The move comes just days after Minnesota joined one other state in refusing a million dollars in federal grants to begin planning its health exchanges.

Minnesota Departments of Health, Human Services and Commerce had prepared to send comments regarding the Exchange-related provisions in the Affordable Care Act, but never did after the Pawlenty administration claimed to have missed the submission deadline. The Minnesota Council of Health Plans obtained the drafted comments through a freedom of information request and sent that, along with a cover letter, to the federal government. The Minnesota Hospital Association, and the Minnesota Medical Association joined the effort.

The cover letter, obtained by the Wonk Room, reads:

The health care community in Minnesota, including health plans, hospitals and health systems, providers, employers, state agencies and consumers, have been actively and collaboratively evaluation and assessing the value than insurance exchange will bring to our marketplace and the communities we serve. While we are disappointed that Gov. Tim Pawlenty chose not to apply to your department for Exchange planning funds, stakeholders continue to work collectively to plan for the implementation of an Exchange in Minnesota.

Responding to the request for comments, the Minnesota agencies said that they anticipate “that Exchange-related issues will be discussed in our upcoming Legislative Session and that many creative ideas and questions will arise over the next few months and years.”

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In August, Pawlenty issued an executive order preventing the state from applying for federal funding, but accepted abstinence-only dollars and $10 million in grants. None of the Republicans running for Governor have endorsed Pawlenty’s order.